Dwaine Caraway Wants a Plastic Bag Ban Right Now, Thank You Very Much

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City officials have made this much clear: a plastic bag ban, a la Austin and any number of California cities, will be coming to Dallas -- eventually. Just last month, assistant city manager Jill Jordan told the City Council that Dallas is "maybe a year or two" away from considering such a measure. Because it's been only five years since the proposal was first floated, hardly enough time to conduct the proper studies and stockpile legal fees.

Councilman Dwaine Caraway is tired of waiting. As the Morning News reported yesterday, Caraway has demanded that City Attorney Tom Perkins draft an ordinance "immediately." This after Austin became the first Texas city to do away with the diaphanous polyethelene totes, banning them from restaurants, grocery stores, and other retailers.

"We're going to deal with it," he told the paper. "It's something I think will make our city a cleaner city, and all the stores have to do is figure out another way to bag their stuff."

Caraway's concern is less with any continent-sized masses of accumulated plastic swirling about the ocean than with the discarded, windblown sacks that get caught in fences and trees and clog gutters.

Nor does he think customers should be forced to buy their own reusable sacks.

"I think it should be the responsibility of the grocery store to provide the types of bags that are environmentally friendly, and do not trash up the neighborhood and the community," Caraway said.

Of course, customers would end up paying either way, through direct purchase of the bags or through higher prices. But that's all academic at this point. First the City Council would have to pass something. And it had better do it before attention-seeking freshman lawmakers force any Shopping Bag Freedom Acts through the legislature.


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41 comments
kduble
kduble

What adds to the methane is bringing carbon up from below the surface and releasing it in the atmosphere. This is what we have with fossil fuels, and in nature, these would have remained harmlessly in their subterranean pockets.

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Bags don't 'trash up' neighborhoods. Caraway's constituents 'trash up' neighborhoods. In so many more ways than just plastic bags. 

johnboy33
johnboy33

So does Dwaine want us cutting down more trees?

Does he want us all going to the grocery store with dirty dingy cloth bags that they will sell us for five dollars a pop?

Why not just require those bags be made from Biodegradable plastic?

Has anyone ever heard of Biodegradable Plastics, it can be made from almost any type of plant including all those leaves and limbs we set out for the monthly bulk trash pick up  --- Problem Solved..

here is a reference link for those who are not familiar with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodegradable_plastic#Examples_of_biodegradable_plastics

casiepierce
casiepierce

"... all the stores have to do is figure out another way to bag their stuff." Starting with teaching the cashiers/baggers how to actually sack groceries in an actual bag that can stand up on its own (like a paper bag, or all of my reusable canvass bags.) These people cannot sack groceries any more because all they know is to shovel everything into a floppy little plastic sack that leads to everything ending up on the floorboard. There is a way to stack boxes and cans, and none of them understand how to do it.

GGreen
GGreen

White Rock was an absolute trash pit last weekend. Most of it was plastic bags or their remnants.

zactrahan
zactrahan

Brownsville, South Padre Island and Fort Stockton all had single-use bag ordinances before Austin did. But none of them were taken to court over it.

anon19832
anon19832

Brownsville, TX was the first City in Texas, back in 2010, to ban plastic bags.. I believe. Raised over a million dollars for local schools.

Tom434
Tom434

You would think that Dallas would wait to see how the lawsuit against Austin plays out, but then I guess the City Attorneys Office doesn't have enough to do.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Here we see the danger of environmental absolutism absent a suitable degree of forethought.  Many years ago, plastic bags were the product of choice for the altruistic environmentalist.  They were saving trees (even though 90% of paper is made from trees grown in forests owned and managed by paper companies, for the purpose of making paper.  managed much better than our Forest Service manages them.) by using plastic bags.  They were reducing trash because plastic bags were recyclable (never mind the fact that paper bags were recyclable as well).  The same can be said of plastic bottles vs glass bottles, and aluminum cans vs steel cans.  Here's the rub:  You can't reduce trash by changing products, you have to change behavior.  Taxing the mfg or the store won't reduce the volume of trash.  Tax neighborhoods, communities or entire cities for the amount of their trash and you'll start to see some improvement.

Caraway, like many altruists, wants to change the behavior, but absolves the individual of responsibility.  This has never worked, isn't working now, and will never work.

James080
James080

I kayaked up White Rock Creek last week and I can tell you plastic grocery bags are hanging from nearly every tree along the bank. I see these bags blowing in the wind every day it seems.

The libertarian hates to support an outright ban, but suppose we slap a tax on every bag, payable by the manufacturer, and dedicate the new tax to plastic bag removal in or parks and green space. This solves two problems. It requires a manufacturer to pay a tax designed to remediate the damage the manufacturer's product causes, and it provides employment opportunities for trash collection.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Dwaine Caraway: from Arthur and Archie to Sagging and Bagging

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

While I think that we should use re-useable grocery bags, I think that a ban is a bad idea.

Caraway has aleady complained that South Dallas lacks grocery stores.  Will the increased cost on the merchant increase or decrease that number Mr. Caraway?  This is also ignoring the fact that the City will be sued.

Sounds like we would be better served with a campaign asking people to reuse or at least properly dispose of bags they will not reuse.  A bag on the ground was put there by a person, not by the store.  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

So Dwaine has moved on from telling us to pick up our baggy saggy pants to picking up our baggy saggy bags and we won't have any more baggy saggy bags in Dallas ...

dongdingding
dongdingding

With the Austin ban, stores can still give out plastic shopping bags, but they must now be made a 4 mil LDPE. If the bags are thinner than 4 mil then they can still be given out if they past tests showing the can be used at least 100 times.  At least in the short term retailers are going with 4 mil bags and thus using up a whole lot more plastic than than before. And I doubt very much that anyone will reuse their free plastic shopping bag more than 100 times. It will be just a likely to be seen blowing down the street, though just a little more slowly.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Good idea.  But, the truth is that America is full of pigs who couldn't care less about the environment.  Just look at the trash people leave on a DART train.

bill.holston1
bill.holston1

anyone spending any time hiking or walking has seen hundreds of thousands of these (and styrofoam drink cups, and the even more ubiquitous plastic bottles) I'm all for this. As far as cost, I have a trunk full of these. They are cheap, and many were giveaways at various events. 

kduble
kduble

@johnboy33To quote from your own reference:

"There is concern that another greenhouse gas, methane, might be released when any biodegradable material, including truly biodegradable plastics, degrades in an anaerobic (landfill) environment.Advantages and disadvantages....

"There are concerns that "Oxo Biodegradable (OBD)" plastic bags may release metals, and may require a great deal of time to degrade in certain circumstances.[8] Furthermore, OBD plastics may produce tiny fragments of plastic that do not continue to degrade at any appreciable rate regardless of the environment."

I'm not saying your idea has no merit. But, in many instances, we may be better off to simply stop producing the waste then to look to technology for some magic panacea.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@casiepierce you must be the happiest man alive!  I have good news for you!  You can go to grocery stores and sack your own groceries!  And, then you'll have only yourself to blame.

Really
Really

@casiepierce That's why I always sack my own groceries.

johnboy33
johnboy33

@casiepierce 

Casie this is a really stupid idea.  See my comment above and get updated on the technology, All we have to do is require those bags be made of biodegradable plastic. It makes much more sense from an environmental standpoint. Any errant bags will simply dissolve when exposed to the elements. and the additional costs that will inevitably be passed on to the consumer would negligible or even nil.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@GGreen it always is.  It's just a question of when the last rain, last flushed the creek into the lake. 

kduble
kduble

@RTGolden1 For any true environmentalist, the answer to paper or plastic was always, neither.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@James080 The manufacturers product does not cause the damage, douchebag citizens with no respect for themselves, their community, or anything else cause the damage.  You have to change behavior at the individual level if you want anything to make a difference.  Tax the neighborhoods around the lake to offset the cost of cleaning up the trash.  Soon they'll find ways to identify and punish those who litter.

kduble
kduble

@Rumpunch1 Taxing the bags doesn't add cost to the merchant. It merely shifts the cost away from shoppers generally to shoppers who use bags specifically.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

watch any city garbage truck for ten minutes. count the bags that blow off it. it makes whole neighborhoods look like garbage dumps. need to make it illegal for people to pile garbage on the street in front of their houses, too. this trashy city takes a team effort to stay this filthy.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@dongdingding 

*sigh* I fear you are correct. The law of unintended consequences is my favorite law of all.

If this replacement bag can be used 100 times, it'll probably last 100 times as long in the environment after someone discards it immediately after the first use.


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz For once, Myrna and I are of one accord on something.  By the way, Jimmy Johns uses paper bags to deliver their sammiches!

markzero
markzero

@kduble @johnboy33 

♺ 

REDUCE

reuse

recycle.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@kduble@johnboy33we have a landfill that captures that very methane.  All decaying matter leaves methane.  Those very leaves leave methane as they decompose.  For centuries no one raked a leaf one, and all that methane seeped out.  But, then again, those of us on the side of balance, were always skeptical of the absurd claims of the man made greenhouse alarmism--http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294560/The-great-green-1-The-hard-proof-finally-shows-global-warming-forecasts-costing-billions-WRONG-along.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

casiepierce
casiepierce

@scottindallas @casiepierce No, I am not at all a happy man. And, FTR, I bag my own groceries. And people get irritated because it takes a couple more seconds to do it right.

kduble
kduble

@johnboy33 @casiepierce Why call Casie's idea stupid? It's at least as thoughtful as yours. Even if we could make the plastic bags biodegradable, it doesn't mean they wouldn't cost more. How much more? We don't know, but we can't have a sensible discussion without knowing. Who is to say that charging for the bags wouldn't be cheaper than passing on the cost of biodegradable bags to purchasers. This still isn't fair to purchasers who bring their own.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@CornyDoggy @RTGolden1 It was how the switch was pitched back in the day.  Repurpose, reuse, recycle - plastic bags were going to be the new savior.  They were going to end global cooling (ironic eh?), end deforestation (which paper has very little to do with), and probably get the chickweed out of your lawn.


On the plus side, it looks like they did end global cooling.

kduble
kduble

@crustyjugglers @James080  That's just the point. If it's passed onto the user, then the shoppers who forgo bags avoid the tax. It's an incentive not to add to the waste stream.

johnboy33
johnboy33

@kduble@casiepierce

"Casies Idea".. What are you talking about? I thought I was was addressing Dwaine Caraways idea as indicated by the Article. As scottindallas pointed out. Those leaves and branches are going to degrade and release the same gases, even if you compost it it still releases those gases. 

If your for recycling and reducing waste, Why would you not be for recycling all that bulk trash? Leaves limbs and yard cuttings that are going to biodegrade anyway. The smart thing to do would be to get one more use of that bio material before the inevitable decomposition.

As for  cost, I think it's well known that cost is driven by supply and demand. The stores would simply have to start ordering them and the cost would come down, especially in consideration that most of us would be happy to give the stuff away for free to anyone that wants it. A lot cheaper than petroleum by products.

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